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Walter E. Massey (1938- )

Photo of Walter E. Massey, the ninth NSF director.

Walter E. Massey

Credit: NSF Collection

The ninth director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) served from March 1991 to April 1993. A veteran of numerous federal science boards and commissions, Walter E. Massey had served on the National Science Board from 1978 to 1984. He brought to NSF a passion for increasing the participation of underrepresented groups, such as racial minorities and women, in scientific research.

Massey received his B.S. from Morehouse College in 1958 and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Physics from Washington University in 1966. He was at Argonne National Laboratory from 1966 to 1968, the University of Illinois, Urbana, from 1968 to 1970, and Brown University from 1970 until 1979. He returned to Argonne in 1979 as director. In 1984, he became vice president for research at the University of Chicago. At the time of his nomination to be director of NSF, he was also a member of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

A major aspect of Massey's tenure was long-range planning for the future. Under his leadership, NSF developed a long-range strategic plan, focusing on intellectual and organizational integration, investment in people and accountability. In addition, responding to his proposal, the National Science Board established a Commission on the Future of the National Science Foundation. The commission looked at how NSF should adapt to changes on both a national and a global scale.